The Value of Silence in Conversation

in #psychology3 years ago


All conversation inevitably reaches a lull, a gap where both parties are unable to come up with anything to say.

It's easy to become paralyzed with self-doubt, excessive introspective analysis, and an incessant desire to fill the space with something, ANYTHING. You flip through every script you can dredge up to make the moment more bearable, neurotically searching for the next thing to drive the conversation.

God help you if you bring up sports, the weather, politics, or any other transparent attempt at ending the silence. Inevitably, these feel trite and unnatural, often leaving you feeling more uncomfortable than had you simply let the quiet experience play out longer.

Silence doesn't need to be deadly


When we're around unfamiliar people or individuals we haven't attained a level of comfort with, an extreme urge can arise to avoid any gaps in conversation. It's almost as if we believe an extended silence will be the swan song to our relationship, leading the other person to view us as boring or uninteresting.

But silence, especially when shared, can be valuable beyond our preconception of it as a social-life wrecker. When we allow natural silence to occur, our experience doesn't develop into a series of forced, pointless ramblings. Instead, it is allowed to be a moment full of potential, unbound by endless back and forth chatter.

Reaching a point where silence is comfortable usually requires spending long periods of time with another person, and is usually reserved for close friends and family members. However, many individuals still shutter at the thought of letting the moment be devoid of commentary or dialogue, no matter how long you've known them. These people tend to drain your energy and patience, never allowing a proper reboot to occur.

Silence is necessary for the symphony of life

The best art recognizes the importance of silence, both as a tool for building tension as well as allowing for space to reset the existing flow, whether it's a play, a song, or a movie. Without contrast between silence and sound, we would not truly appreciate one or the other.

The same is true for conversation. While I'm sure you've had a discussion that lasted for hours late into the night, eventually all good dialogue must reach a resting period.

In a world where being the life of the party is seen as the most desirable social outcome, it's important to remember the value of taking time to be silent, to breathe, to reflect upon the world without discussing it. To listen without needing to provide input.

Make friends with silence, and you'll never fret about a dull, empty moment again.

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